Treating house-soiling behavior in a dog with pachygyria, hydrocephalus and cerebellar hypoplasia.
- hydrocephalus and cerebellar hypoplasia
A 1-year-old female mongrel dog was evaluated for house-soiling behavior. The dog had a diagnosis of cerebellar hypoplasia, pachygyria and hydrocephalus. In addition, she had been suffering from epileptic seizures for which she was being treated pharmacologically. Blood tests and abdominal ultrasound examination ruled out portosystemic shunt or other possible organic causes of seizure, lethargy and dullness. The patient’s behavioral history revealed an extremely high daily frequency of urination (20-30/day) and defecation (6-8/day), most of which occurred inside the house and far from the potty-pads. Behavioral observation revealed increased locomotor activity and agitation right before the elimination events. Urinalysis were within normal range. Water intake was normal. A behavioral diagnosis of lack of housetraining was made. A housetraining program based on positive reinforcement was implemented alongside with an environmental enrichment program involving the use of feeding balls, social interactions and adequate environmental exploration. Despite the owner’s compliance, the high frequency of elimination episodes rendered the therapeutic intervention very difficult. Surprisingly, after neutering urination frequency dropped to 3-5 times a day. However, after 3 months from the beginning of the treatment, while clinical improvements were evident, no improvement could be observed in housetraining. At this point, a decision was made to introduce a soft carpet beneath the potty-pad in order to facilitate the patient’s associative learning processes. After 3 months, episodes of house-soiling decreased from 60% to 30%. After 3 more months the owner reported that the dog would only eliminate on the potty-pad except when left alone. Implications of this behavior were explained to the owner, but she decided to avoid further behavioral evaluation.